You have to hand it to Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council. Their ability to shamelessly cash in on the Bond theme is rivalled only by my own. They had the genius idea of putting their main firework display to James Bond music (or Bondfire night, as Spouse later called it).
And so it was that Zim, Spouse and I wended our weary way to Ravenscourt Park to watch the fireworks and listen to the tunes. It was flipping, flipping cold that night: we found ourselves in the Premier Inn, partially so Zim could use the facilities, and partially so we could drink some medicinally warming hooch, before wandering in to the park. There was a strict “don’t bring your own sparklers or alcohol policy” which was very much let down by the lack of bag searching.
Unexpectedly the rozzers were in, and even went so far as to try to stamp out some people’s sparklers. “Good luck with that – you can’t stamp out an incendiary device once lit,” said Spouse. Say what you like about Spouse, his scientific training never leaves him in a crisis. He was quite happy to explain to me and Zim the fact that one of the rides ran on centripetal forces, rather than centrifugal forces as Zim and I mistakenly had thought. At this point we sent him off for mulled wine, and took in our surroundings.
“It’s a funny old Bonfire Night this. I can’t see a Bonfire anywhere.”
“No,” said Zim. “I think they’re trying to weed the whole bonfire thing out. No burning effigies these days. It’s all about the money instead.”
Zim had a point. There must have been 5000 people in Ravenscourt Park that night, and with tickets £5 in advance, and quite a large fun fair in operation, with overpriced grub on every side, someone somewhere was making a profit.
I tried to lighten the mood. “Now, I want lots of ooh-ing and ah-ing. In symphony if we can manage it.”
Zim eyed me through the frosty mists. “Yes,” she said. “Still, lets not force it, eh?”
Spouse returned, with no mulled wine on his person. The queues had been immovable, and he had bailed. I didn’t blame him, but it really was flipping cold, and some of us could have done with the soothing warmth that accompanies boiled wine with sugar in it.
Every firework display I have ever been to starts late, and this one was no exception. Peckish, we used the delay to queue for hot pork sandwiches, and we had comfortably eaten them before either of the countdowns began.
Eventually the John Barry tune began, and more or less simultaneously, so did the fireworks. Proving that all human knowledge is now on YouTube, here is a link to the entire show for those with 18 minutes to spare. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JygwfMLXxfw
Plainly some considerable thought had gone into selecting the right fireworks to channel the various Bond songs. Things have moved on a bit since my school’s Bonfire Nights. Most impressive by far was the Goldfinger tune. A bit like Pan People’s dance routines on Top of the Pops, the pyrotechnic team were able to take an oddly literal firework response to Goldfinger. First, there were golden fingers of firework trails, before there were explosions of golden light filling the air for the choruses.
A similar thing happened for Diamonds are Forever, as silver balls rent the air. As a die-hard A-ha fan, I was relieved that the organisers had gone with “The Living Daylights”, and Zim and I gladly sang along to all the old songs.
Carly Simon probably didn’t expect her work to be performed by about 5000 people in a park, including the “dah, dah, dah, dah, dah” backing piano, but we certainly did. In fact I would say the singing along element persisted right until the “electroclash” classic “Die Another Day.” It turns out electroclash is not the easiest thing to sing along to. Neither was Garbage’s moribund “The World is Not Enough,” or the theme tune to Casino Royale “You Know My Name”. Not even Spouse recognised either of these on contact, I had to tell him. I paused in shock. This means his Bond obsession has rubbed off on me far more than I had ever thought. As the last explosions went off, and it became clear that the fireworks were over, I led the charge to the local pub for our first glasses of mulled wine this year. If it continues to be this blooming cold, it will not be the last.
For those with the stomach for it, here’s Alan Partridge narrating the introductory sequence to “The Spy who Loved me,” so you too can join in with the “dah, dah, dah, dah, dahs” (Parental Advisory, you have been warned http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYFdhCEdzTg). Or for those of a less nervous disposition, here’s Joe Cornish’s legendary suggested theme tune to Quantum of Solace, which was both funnier and better than the tune they actually used: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6CoNUE5Zho)